New research shows massage reduced the stress response in healthy volunteers.

The researchers measured heart rate and heart-rate variability, and found that after five minutes of massage, heart rate decreased significantly, indicating a reduced stress response, according to a report published on www.pubmed.gov.

Specifically, the massage decreased sympathetic nervous activity. This led to decreased overall autonomic activity; parasympathetic nervous activity also decreased, and autonomic balance was maintained.

Participants received 80 minutes of massage on their hands and feet. Control-group members rested for the same amount of time.

Data – saliva cortisol, serum glucose, and serum insulin – were collected before, during, immediately following and one after following the massage and at rest, according to the report.

The study was a crossover design including 22 subjects (11 male, 11 female, with a mean age of 28.2).

The research, “Physiological responses to touch massage in healthy volunteers,” is published in the journal Autonomic Neuroscience, in the July 16 edition.

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